Earlier in the month, the New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg posed a question in that was the subject of his column’s exploration. He asked, “If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?”
Long before Rutenberg’s column, Univision and Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos had made his decision. For Ramos, it was untenable to treat Trump as a regular candidate, and we witnessed Ramos famously, or infamously, depending on how you see it, get kicked out of a Trump press conference in August of last year (to which he was later allowed to return) when he tried to ask Trump a question about immigration.
In a follow-up interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly after that presser, Ramos told the Kelly File host that journalists “have to take a stand when it comes to racism, discrimination, corruption, public lies, dictatorships and human rights. When he’s expressing those really dangerous words we have to confront him.”
He crystallized those ideas in an opinion column in Time yesterday, extending them not only to journalists but to politicians and voters as well, who will “all be judged by how we responded to Donald Trump,” adding, “neutrality is not an option.”
Ramos addressed specifically idea of neutrality and objectivity in journalism as it applies to Trump coverage, putting himself definitively and unsurprisingly in the Trump can’t be treated like a regular candidate camp:
Trump has forced journalists to revisit rules of objectivity and fairness. Just providing both points of view is not enough in the current presidential campaign. If a candidate is making racist and sexist remarks, we cannot hide in the principle of neutrality. That’s a false equivalence.
Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite were right; sometimes you have to take a stand. They did it against the dangerous persecutions of Senator Joe McCarthy and in denouncing the pernicious official spin during the worst years of the Vietnam War.